Great Filipino movies for Lent

01:00 AM April 01, 2015

Lent almost always brings back memories of my younger years because it was only during Holy Week when I would get a chance to see classic movies from the so-called “Second Golden Age” of Philippine Cinema.

Since regular programming is not available on local channels until Easter Sunday, it didn’t take long before I realized that we really have great movies of our own—films that reflect the harsh realities of our society and question our (in)humanity even during a time when freedom of expression was limited. Some of these movies we can reflect on this Holy Week:


“Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” by Lino Brocka. One of Brocka’s most important and popular works, the film features human prejudice and hypocrisy. It also shows the attitude of the ruling elite towards the weak and powerless.

“Himala” by Ishmael Bernal. Considered by many as Nora Aunor’s best performance and one of the greatest Filipino movies, the film reveals how faith can become an absurdity in a country ravaged by poverty and desperation. Ricky Lee’s screenplay is exemplary.


“Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?” by Eddie Romero. The search for a national identity is the central issue in the movie, which remains relevant today as the United States continues to dominate our economic, political and cultural life.

“Sister Stella L” by Mike de Leon. A story of a nun-turned-enlightened activist who chooses to struggle along with the oppressed workers. A landmark film about unionism and extrajudicial killings.

“Minsa’y Isang Gamo-Gamo” by Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara. The film exposes the harmful effects of the US military bases in the country and the cruelty of the GIs against Filipinos. A must-see for the fans of US servicemen Daniel Smith and Scott Pemberton.

“Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag” by Lino Brocka. Adopted from Edgardo M. Reyes’ novel and also considered one of the greatest Filipino movies of all time, the film exposes the harshest realities in Manila, like urban poverty, inhumane labor conditions, male prostitution, criminality, etc. Mike de Leon’s photography is just beautiful.

“Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” by Mario O’Hara. Set during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the film features both the physical and psychological effects of World War II.

“Ora Pronobis” by Lino Brocka. A political thriller that bravely exposes the grave human rights abuses committed against civilians by a group of anticommunist fanatics. It shows how things have really not changed under President Corazon Aquino’s administration. Based on true events. Great script by Pete Lacaba.

“Sakada” by Behn Cervantes. Banned during martial law, the film reveals the deteriorating conditions of the seasonal farmworkers in Tarlac and how they were exploited and oppressed by an hacienda owner and his minions. Needless to say, the issue remains relevant today.


The crux of the matter is there are a lot of more deserving local movies that can be shown on local channels during Lent than “Enteng Kabisote” or some local teen flick. But obviously, commercialism doesn’t know how to repent.

—DANIEL ALOC, [email protected]

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TAGS: Behn Cervantes, Eddie Romero, Filipino movies, Ganito Kami Noon Paano Kayo Ngayon, Himala, holy week, Ishmael Bernal, Lent, Lino Brocka, Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, Mario o’hara, Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Mike De Leon, Minsa’y Isang Gamo-Gamo, Movies, nora aunor, Ora Pronobis, Pete Lacaba, Sakada, Sister Stella L, Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang
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